Lucid Culture


Riveting New Sounds and Old Crowd-Pleasers From the Claremont Trio

If the Claremont Trio’s forthcoming album is anything like their concert last week to open this year’s Music Mondays series on the Upper West Side, it’s going to be amazing.

The program was typical of this venue, a mix of rapturously interesting 21st century works along with a couple of old warhorses. The three musicians – violinist Emily Bruskin, cellist Julia Bruskin and pianist Andea Lam – offered some gleefully phantastmagorical Halloween foreshadowing with four folk song variations by Gabriela Lena Frank. Careful, wary long-tone overlays between the musicians quickly gave way to a devious, ghostly game of peek-a-boo, carnivalesque pirouettes and wary, lingering, Messiaenic chords.

Helen Grime‘s Three Whistler Miniatures – inspired by an exhibit at the Gardner Museum in Boston – were more austere and ominously resonant: rich washes of cello, mordantly assertive piano and slithery violin all figured into the mini-suite’s striking dynamic shifts and desolate reflecting-pool chill at the end.

The two warhorses were Dvorak’s Dumky Trio and Brahms’ final trio, No. 3 in C Minor. The former was a Slavic soul party, fueled as much by the violin’s elegantly leaping Romany-flavored cadenzas as much as by Lam’s alternately romping and unexpectedly muted attack. The three women played up the music’s pensive side, leaving a lot of headroom for the composer’s series of triumphant codas.

Where they pulled back on the Dvorak for the sake of emotional attunement and contrast, they did the opposite with the Brahms, Lam in particular adding extra vigor, which paid off particularly well in the andante third movement as she added a degree of gravitas. Otherwise, there wasn’t much the Trio could enhance: the music was lovely, and predictable, party music for the thieving dukes and abbots and the gentry of 19th century Germany. As proto-ELO, it wasn’t up to Jeff Lynne level.

Music Mondays continues on October 7 at 7:30 PM at Avent Church at the corner of 93rd St. and Broadway with the Aizuri String Quarte playing works by Haydn, Hildegard von Bingen, Brahms and Caroline Shaw. Admission is free, but you’ll have to get there at least least fifteen minutes early if you really want a seat at what has become one of Manhattan’s favorite classical spots.


September 22, 2019 Posted by | avant garde music, classical music, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Memorable Premiere and More from the Claremont Trio

The piece de resistance on the Claremont Trio’s program at this month’s Music Mondays on the Upper West was the New York premiere of a brand-new commission from Gabriela Lena Frank, a Peruvian-themed four-part suite simply titled Folk Songs for Piano Trio.Violinist Emily Bruskin, cellist Julia Bruskin and pianist Andrea Lam had debuted it in Boston only days before but were obviously reveling in its striking vividness and nimble blend of 12-tone and neoromantic harmonies. The opening movement centered around a dramatically echoing, off-center tolling bell motif played with a grinning vigor by Lam. The following movement, meant to depict children playing, relied heavily on the strings’ fluttering pizzicato, its brooding tonalities vastly more evocative of the Hunger Games. A portrait of street musicians followed, the Bruskins getting to enjoy utilizing guitar voicings and chords, building to a haunting modal vamp at the end. They concluded the piece with an evocation of ancient ruins that blended otherworldly austerity with towering majesty.

The rest of the program was fun, too, starting with the Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 1 No. 1, which is typical early Beethoven – he sneaks up on you, and on those who play his music. After the catchy cuckoo clock motif that opens the final movement seems to have run its course of variations, the composer hits you (and the pianist) with a brutally difficult series of downward cascades. But Lam took them in stride and turned them into a single, comfortably rippling brook. Mendelssohn’s Trio in C minor, Op. 66, which closed the program, opened with a much longer series of rapidfire runs, and Lam handled them with the same seemingly effortless precision. The richly gorgeous, unleashed triumph of the opening movement never recurs to such an extent, but maybe that’s just as well. The sternness and then stately warmth and glimmer of the waltzing second movement, along with the genial nocturnal ambience constructed throughout the end of the work, sent everyone out onto the glistening streets outside to revel quietly in contemplation of what they’d just witnessed.

October 17, 2012 Posted by | classical music, concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment